A NEW government fund to boost farm productivity will be 'welcomed' by farmers in Dorset.

It was announced last week (Oct 30) that the Environment Secretary Michael Gove MP would open a £40million grants scheme for investment in ‘cutting edge’ farm technology and equipment. 

Speaking at the 2017 World Dairy Summit in Belfast, Mr Gove invited farmers and food processors to apply for grants which are part of the Countryside Productivity Scheme.

Under the scheme, grants for a minimum of £35,000 are available to help livestock, dairy, arable and horticultural farmers improve farm productivity if a suitable project is proposed.

The government has guaranteed funding for the grants if they are agreed and signed before the UK's departure from the EU, even if grant agreements continue after Brexit. 

A spokesman for South West National Farmer’s Union (NFU) said: “The government's fund will be welcomed by farmers.

"It's difficult at the moment to say exactly how it will affect Dorset farmers, but certainly the South West NFU will encourage farmers in the county to apply, along with their colleagues across the region.”

In order for a grant application to be successful, the government has said projects must be good value for money and in line with domestic strategic priorities. 

President of the NFU Meurig Raymond said: "Improving farm productivity post-Brexit can have benefits that extend far beyond the farm gate. It can allow farmers to create more space for nature, further invest in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and better manage nutrients.

“British farming is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink, worth £109 billion and employing 3.8 million people and I am confident we can build on that."

Speaking ahead of the World Dairy Summit, Mr Gove said: “Farmers truly are the backbone of our rural economy and as the original friends of the earth, we want to support them to grow more, sell more and export more great British produce – all while doing good for our environment.”
The deadline for grant applications is December 3 2018.